New York, NY, September 19, 2011 … While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gears up to go to the United Nations this week to seek international recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, a number of Palestinian figures are adamantly against such a maneuver in the absence of negotiations with Israel over a permanent solution to the conflict.
"Surprisingly enough, some of the most forceful arguments against the action the Palestinians are now pursuing at the United Nations have been made by Palestinians themselves," said Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). "A chorus of prominent Palestinian leaders and supporters has argued strongly against a go-it-alone strategy without resolving the outstanding issues of the conflict through mutual agreement with Israel."
In a blog in The Huffington Post, published today, Mr. Foxman highlights the voices of a number of Palestinian leaders and long-time pro-Palestinian advocates who argue against a unilateral declaration of statehood. Those voices are being drowned out, he argues, as the Palestinians begin their final push to seek some form of recognition this week at the United Nations.
Most prominent among the critics has been Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who has in the past argued that without an agreement with Israel regarding borders, security or settlements, a campaign at the U.N. will not bring the Palestinians anything resembling statehood or independence. Fayyad told Israel television in late 2010, "We're not looking for a Mickey Mouse state, we're not looking for some form of self-rule, we're looking for a sovereign state of Palestine where we Palestinians can live as free people."
That position was underscored in arguments made by the Palestinian Authority's own Negotiations Support Unit. Among the so-called Palestine Papers" – the 1,700 confidential Palestinian Authority documents leaked to Al-Jazeera earlier this year – are numerous memos which argue that a declaration of statehood outside the context of negotiations would weaken their longtime demands on borders, right of return, settlements and Jerusalem.
Other pro-Palestinian advocates have argued that a unilateral declaration of statehood would "disenfranchise Palestinian refugees living outside the area administered by the Palestinian Authority.
"While there is understandable frustration and discouragement at the pace, violations and regular breakdowns of the negotiation process, Israel, the Palestinians and the international community must continue to recognize it is the best means for the realization of a two state solution, whereby Israel and an independent Palestinian state will be able to live side-by-side in peace and security," Mr. Foxman writes in The Huffington Post.